Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani won Iran’s presidential polls on Saturday, according to country’s state television. This will be Rouhani’s second four-year term.
Millions of Iranians had voted in the polls on Friday. The turnout was so massive that the deadline for voting was extended by six hours, Reuters reported. Another report, however, said the deadline had been extended by five hours. Around 40 million votes were cast during Friday’s election and the turnout was pegged at 70%, Reuters quoted Iran’s interior ministry as saying.
The presidential election has seen a face-off between moderate Rouhani and the hardliner, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-backed Ebrahim Raisi. While Rouhani had gained popularity for opening up Iran’s doors to the West and helping the country get rid of stifling economic sanctions by toning down its nuclear programme, he also faced large-scale disaffection in rural areas where jobs and prosperity have been hard to come by.
Two other candidates were also in the fray – the conservative Mostafa Mirsalim and the reformist Mostafa Hashemitaba.
Raisi, a 56-year-old judge, had accused the 68-year-old incumbent president of weakening before the West’s demands and compromising on Iran’s integrity. He has also said Rouhani’s “pandering” to the West had hurt the country’s economy. Raisi, who enjoys the backing of the Revolutionary Guards force, has said, however, that he would respect the mandate. The Revolutionary Guards are part of Iran’s Armed Forces and entrusted with the task of protecting the Islamic nature of the country.